What Happened to The Bible Project?

by Leslie Irish Evans on April 22, 2014

Curious Seagull

So, remember a few posts ago when I said I was going to read The Bible and post weekly about it?

Yeah, about that … my assignment is going to be a bit late.

All sorts of things have happened!

Mainly this: my husband and I are opening a photography gallery on Whidbey Island! It’s in the beautiful downtown area of Langley. We’re aiming for a May 22 open date. My husband does a great job of explaining how/why we cut our Airstream trip short in his most recent post at Tin Can Tardis.

Also, we had to put our dog down. :-( Tiki was a loyal and loved companion to our family for 13 years. We miss her terribly.

photo

Anyway, that and countless other things have made me realize that The Bible Project will now be done on an “as manageable” basis. I still want and intend to do it, but it’s going to be on a much slower timetable.

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Profound Truth Nugget: Nobody Cares How Smart You Are

by Leslie Irish Evans on April 2, 2014

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It’s true. I mean, they might admire it, or find it useful in certain circumstances. Kind of like you admire someone’s pretty eyes or someone’s ability to dunk a basketball. But when it comes to actually connecting with people, how smart you are isn’t what they’re looking for. They want to know how much you care. About them.

Lemme give you an example. Back in 2002, I was in New York City for my sister’s bridal shower/bachelorette weekend. We had an amazing time shopping, going to great restaurants, and seeing plays. On our last night there, we went to see “The Full Monty” on Broadway. It was fantastic, but the main memory of that night was the guy who was sitting in front of us.

Whenever I go to New York City I make sure to wear my celebrity goggles. You know, the ones that make you scan every face you see and determine whether or not they’re someone famous? (That same weekend I thought I saw Paul Reiser and Jackie Mason until my mother pointed out that every other guy in New York looks like Paul Reiser or Jackie Mason.) Sitting in front of us for this showing of The Full Monty was a very distinguished-looking older gentleman. He had a fabulous head of white hair, and wore a smart navy-blue blazer.

I nudged my sister sitting next to me: “Who is that guy?”

She checked him out while trying to play it cool.  “He does look like somebody, but I don’t think so.”

“Newscaster?” I asked. “CNN?”

It bugged me the whole first act of the show. This is a thing I do a lot. I pride myself on having a good memory for faces, and am always diving on to the IMDB to see “what else that guy was in” when I’m watching a TV show. Finally, at intermission (after walking to the front of the theater and then walking back so I could get a full-on look at his face) I realized who he was. It was Nick Clooney. (George’s dad, Rosemary’s brother, and a respected journalist/TV host in his own right) At the end of the show I tapped him on the shoulder and introduced myself.

Here’s why I’m telling you this story: I will tell anyone who asks (and many who don’t) that Nick Clooney is a wonderful person. I will tell you how charming and smart and gracious he is. You know why? Because after I tapped him on the shoulder and told him I was a fan of his newspaper column, he then proceeded to chat me and my family up, asking us all sorts of questions about ourselves and what we were doing in town. We were absolutely giddy from the attention. He displayed an interest and a caring attitude in our group and our story.

Now, the reality is this: I don’t know Nick Clooney. He may be difficult. He may be stubborn. He may be mean or he may be a grouch. I have no idea. But because he displayed such warmth and such an interest in our group I feel like he’s a friend.  (Our family joked for the remainder of the week that we were going to The Clooneys’ house for Christmas.)

Would we have had the same impression if he’d started showing off how clever he was? Of course not. We’d probably have been somewhat amused and then perhaps a bit put-off by seeming desperation. But the man has lived with fame for most of his life and he’s a journalist so he probably is interested in peoples’ stories. He knows how to roll with strangers tapping him on the shoulder and he knows how to give the people what they want. He was so good at it we didn’t even see him doing it. It wasn’t until much later that I looked back on it and realized all he did was ask us about ourselves.

I’ve recently come to accept that my number one criteria for friendship is that I like people who like me. I wrestled with this for a while, thinking it seemed overly-simplistic or needy.  I should choose friends who are smart, or talented, or highly-skilled or something, right? (Frankly, I don’t know why I wrestled with this. I over-think stuff.)

Think about the people you gravitate to in your life: Do you like them because they’re smart, or did that come later? Are there people whom you know who are smart but you aren’t particularly close to them? Why or why not?

Now flip this around: when you meet someone new, do you feel compelled to talk about yourself? Do you work to be clever, or wait for them to stop talking so you can say something else? Do you ask them about themselves, expressing a genuine interest in their story and what’s going on in their lives? How about the people you already know? Do you ask how they’re doing? Or is it all about you?

I’m quite sure I need to work on being better at this.  I may not be the most limber chick on the block but as an introvert my head can climb up my own ass pretty easily. I think it’s time to channel my inner Clooney and reach out more to my friends.

Charm offensive activates in 3 … 2 … 1 …

How are you? Write about it in the comment box below.

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Introducing: The Bible Project

by Leslie Irish Evans on March 25, 2014

Bible with Grunge Stone Background

WHAT

  • I’m going to read the Bible and blog about it.

 HOW

  • I will read each book of the New International Version (NIV) Bible straight through, then re-read and make notes, then compile a blog post sharing my notes about that particular book.

WHEN

  • I plan to read a book per week, with a new post every Saturday.

 WHY

  • Because I want to understand the book better.
  • I grew up with a strange smattering of religious education: a little Baptist Sunday School, a few years of Catholic school, invitations to Passover Seders, a few years of Unitarian-Universalism. That combined with simply living in the Western culture has given me exposure to many Bible stories. I know the Garden of Eden story pretty well.  I’m a fan of Moses’ story. But there are plenty of cultural references that are Bible-based that I don’t really know.   
     
    Case in point: I was recently at the Storyline conference in San Diego. It’s a Christian-based conference that welcomes all kinds. I don’t consider myself a Christian but I went to experience the process (which is terrific and deserves its own post) of values clarification and life-planning. Since the majority of the crowd were church-folks a lot of the speakers made references to Bible stories. One speaker’s presentation was all about the story of “The Prodigal Son.” It was assumed that everyone already knew the story, so I was at a disadvantage. I’d heard it used many times in plays and movies and such: “Ah! The Prodigal Son returns!” But that night I had to go look up what it meant, and it meant the opposite of what I thought. [I’ll save the rest of that story for when I get to it in the Bible.] In part I want to read it so I know what people are talking about when they drop references like that.
  • Because I want to understand Christians better.
    • I don’t consider myself a Christian. Some of you reading that sentence might not find it particularly intriguing but others reading that might be a bit scandalized. Even though my family wasn’t particularly religious, I grew up in a community where people generally had some sort of church affiliation. Let me put it this way:  In college I said casually to a friend “I’m not a Christian” and she turned to me, shocked, and said “Then what the hell are you?”

 What I am is a spiritual person who believes in a higher power but can’t prove its existence. A person who thinks Jesus Christ was a wise rabbi who had good lessons we could all benefit from following. I don’t believe there was a literal resurrection from the dead, but I think that story is a fabulous and worthy metaphor. I also think Buddha was a wise and wonderful teacher and I don’t doubt I would find wise and wonderful teachers in lots of other religious traditions.

But Christianity, has had a huge hand in the shaping of the western world as I know it. Christianity, particularly conservative evangelical Christianity, has a huge say in the United States of America today. I’m a liberal, generally secular person and I’m tired of the divisiveness that the “religious vs. secular”, “conservative vs. liberal”, “right vs. left” paradigm has caused in our culture. I think it’s a false paradigm, and I think the only way to undo it is to start understanding the “other” side.

This is going to freak some of my liberal friends out.

I’m comparing this effort to one I did a few years ago, in the same vein:  Like I said, I’m a liberal. But a few years ago I decided to take handgun lessons. It was some sort of Living Social coupon at a nearby place. I was intrigued by the offer because I was afraid of guns. I had a situation once where a loaded handgun appeared in a place where my toddler could have found it and I froze with fear. I screamed for my husband to come and handle it. I was afraid to be anywhere near it.

Some of you reading this might think “Good! You shouldn’t go anywhere near it.” but here’s the thing: What if I had needed to? What if my husband hadn’t been around and I needed to handle it myself? What if, going forward, I was in some sort of situation again where I needed to handle a gun? (To take it away from someone, to prevent it from hurting someone, or even, in a rare and unfortunate situation, to use it on someone?) I didn’t like that I had frozen up in fear. Heck, I have a butcher block full of large, razor sharp knives in my kitchen. Do I freeze up and walk around them like they’re radioactive? Of course not! They’re tools. I have a very healthy respect for them but I’m not afraid of them.  That’s how I wanted to be with guns. And it worked! The class was fascinating and very well done and I’m glad I did it. But afterward I had friends and family say “Oh, wow! Are you going to go buy a gun now?” Uhhh, no.  I just wanted to learn about them.

That’s how I want to be with Christians. I don’t want to have someone tell me they’re a Christian and immediately feel a wall come up between us.  A wall that says “You believe this and I believe that and so we’re of completely different worlds and we can’t be friends.” It’s a fake wall. I want it go away.

This crazy project is my attempt at disabling that wall.  Will there be people who think “Oh, Leslie’s a born-again Christian now”? I dunno. Maybe. Who cares? What other people think about me is none of my business!

If you’ve read this far you know my intention now. I plan to be really honest about what I read and very direct with my  thoughts so if criticism of The Bible causes you butthurt this probably won’t be the series for you.  Otherwise, I hope my plan intrigues you enough to subscribe to this blog (see the small subscribe button to the right) and to comment freely. I’m looking forward to some interesting conversation!

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Your Mess is Your Message

by Leslie Irish Evans on February 4, 2014

I got that line from a wonderful speaker I heard recently named Ann Bennett. I love it because it blows up the default expectation so many of us have that we have to get everything “straightened out” before we can tell our story, or our truth. Trust me, experts don’t have flawless lives. It’s when we can embrace the mess that we level up in life.

My sister sent me this video, which I think perfectly describes this embracing the mess concept. It’s a talk by author Kelly Corrigan on motherhood. Enjoy.

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First Monday Call: Essential Oils

by Leslie Irish Evans on January 29, 2014

On the First Monday of every month I do a free conference call, discussing different aspects of self-care. For February, I’ll be discussing essential oils. (I have an advanced certification in aromatherapy.)  Ever wondered what the deal is with them? How to incorporate them into your life?  Join me and let’s talk!

WHEN: 10am – 11am (Pacific Standard Time) on Monday, Feb 3, 2014

WHERE: Your phone!

(Free Conference Call HD)

Simply dial in to the number below, then enter your access code when prompted.

Dial-In Number:
(559) 726-1300
Participant Access Code:
635628#

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